I have been working on sleep and health for around 7 years now. When I first started there was very little interest. A clinician, on a national funding committee, said to me “why are you worried? Sleep is natural…” I think this attitude is finally changing.
You may have seen an increased interest in the media in relation to sleep. There are news articles, nearly daily, about the new research and the ‘dangers’ of bad sleep. I suppose they need to sell papers. I was recently part of a BBC1 programme (‘The truth about…sleep’) with Michael Mosely. They approached us to conduct some sort of experiment. Working with my colleague (Dr Eleanor Scott) we recorded the blood glucose in 6 participants for a week. During this time, they were required to reduce their time asleep by 3 hours on 2 consecutive nights.
The results took us by surprise. We know that this should have some sort of impact, but all six participants had raised glucose the days after their sleep restriction. And the rise was around 0,5mmol/L which, as well as being statistically significant, is clinically significant. I am busy writing this up for a journal.
Hopefully, we are going to carry on this idea by looking at shift-workers. That is the plan….
By Prof Graham Law